Kentucky Guardsmen honored for help with W.Va. chemical spill

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

41st in WV 2

Master Sgt. Scott Terrill and Sgt. Joel Ray Campbell, both with the 41st Civil Support Team collect water samples at a school in Boone County, W. Va., Jan. 26, 2014. Ten members of the unit assisted the West Virginia National Guard following a chemical spill in the Kanawha River Valley. (Photo courtesy of 41st CST)

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Guardsmen with Kentucky’s 41st Civil Support Team were honored by the West Virginia National Guard recently for their actions and expertise provided during a chemical spill that affected water supplies in the Kanawha River Valley, W.Va.

The nine Soldiers and one Airman were presented the West Virginia State Service ribbon and the West Virginia Emergency Service Award by the state’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. James B. Hoyer, in Charleston, W. Va., Jan. 30, 2014.

Eight counties in the Kanawha Valley declared states of emergency after after a chemical leak contaminated the West Virginia American Water Company’s system in the area.  To assist its neighbor and sister unit, the 35th Civil Support Team, members of the 41st travelled to West Virginia to help in the assessment of water contamination.

“They were able to utilize their specific skill set acquired at the CST in order to perform proper water sampling for testing and validation,” said Lt. Col. John Cline, commander of the 41st. “It was great that we were called upon to assist, it shows how training pays off when
real-world missions arise.”

“I am proud of our Soldiers’ and Airman’s work, but am not surprised at their exemplary performance. It is every day business for the 41st.”

The team members worked alongside the 35th to collect water samples from 103 schools in the eight counties affected. Throughout the six-day mission, the 41st filled in for command and control, provided input into the collection plan and offered expert advice on techniques and procedures of the sampling.

In addition to Kentucky’s CST, Guardsmen from Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio and the District of Columbia answered the call to assist West Virginia during the crisis.

41st CST in WV 3

Staff Sgt. David Reeves of the West Virginia National Guard’s 35th Civil Support Team collects a water sample at St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 11, 2014. Team members have been collecting samples and monitoring chemical levels in the water since a contamination issue was detected Jan. 10. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Todd Harrell West Virginia National Guard)

“Having a civil support team in every state makes it easy for us to speak the same language and we all share a common bond,” said Capt. Stephen Smith, survey team leader with the 41st. “We are all unique units, but together we are able to focus on the problem at hand and bridge any gaps that might otherwise pose problems operationally.”

“It was a privilege to assist West Virginia in their time of need,” said Smith. “It’s great to be able come to their aid with what the CST brings to the table and to offer our support to get things back to normal.”

 

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